The Brooklyn Nets could get a couple of injured guards — Seth Curry and Goran Dragic — back into their lineup when they visit the slumping Miami Heat on Saturday night.
Miami (47-27), still in first place in the Eastern Conference, has lost three straight games and five of the past eight. The slump has allowed the Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers to climb within a half-game of the Heat.
Brooklyn (38-35) is in eighth place, making this game against Miami a possible first-round playoff preview.
Curry has missed four of the past six games due to a sprained left ankle. He is averaging 15.5 points and is shooting 47.1 percent from 3-point range since joining the Nets in February.
Dragic sat out the Nets’ 132-120 road loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday because of a sore left knee. He played for Miami from 2014-15 to 2020-21, earning an All-Star berth in the 2017-18 season. Dragic is averaging 7.6 points and 4.2 assists this season.
“I think we’re all optimistic,” Nets coach Steve Nash said of the return of Curry and Dragic. “I can’t guarantee it, but there’s hope.”
Brooklyn’s other injuries are longer-term issues, including Ben Simmons (back), who has yet to play this season. Joe Harris (ankle) is out for the season, but the Nets hope LaMarcus Aldridge (hip) will return next week.
Curry and Dragic could support Nets stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who would both rank among the NBA’s top five scorers if they had enough games played.
Durant is averaging 29.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists in 46 games. He is shooting 90.3 percent on foul shots and 37.5 percent on 3-point attempts.
Irving is averaging 28.5 points in 20 games. He is shooting 90.8 percent on free throws and 43.8 percent from long distance.
In the loss to Memphis, Durant and Irving combined for 78 points, but the Nets got just 11 points on 2-for-11 shooting from their bench.
The only other Nets who scored in double figures were center Andre Drummond (15 points) and ex-Miami Hurricanes star Bruce Brown (13).
The Heat will try to spoil Brown’s homecoming on Saturday, although they are looking for a win against anyone at this point. On Friday night, the Heat blew a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead and lost 111-103 to the lowly New York Knicks.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra complained about New York’s 28-14 edge in second-chance points. The Knicks also had a 13-2 edge on fastbreak points.
“This was a game decided by the second-chance points that kept them alive,” Spoelstra said. “We were playing well enough. We had a double-digit lead for a majority of the game. But they got second-chance points, they got to the foul line and then they made 3-pointers, in that order.”
In addition, it’s evident that the Heat miss guard Tyler Herro, who is their second-leading scorer. Herro, who sparks Miami’s second unit by averaging 20.9 points, has missed two consecutive games due to a knee injury.
Without Herro, there is more pressure on Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry.
Butler had 30 points, seven rebounds and seven assists against New York. Adebayo and Lowry finished with 17 points each.